US Air Ways
US Airways began as an airmail service in 1939. In their 73 year history the company has changed names several times. Originally from All American Aviation to All American Airlines and Allegheny Airlines while acquiring Lake Central Airlines and Mohawk Airlines. In 1979 Allegheny Airlines changes their name to US Air. http://www.usairways.com/en-us/aboutus/pressroom/history/chronology.html
January 15 2008 US Airways flight 1549 left New York’s LaGuarida airport headed for Charlotte, North Carolina and after striking a flight of birds crashed landed in the Hudson River.
SITUATION (SWOT) ANALYSIS
Strengths: First they had recently updated their crisis plan. Second they had just implemented a dry run of their plan. The timing of the water landing was fortuitous in that their crisis plan was fresh in the minds of their employees. Also the Hudson River helped the rescue efforts, crashing in the ocean surly would have claimed lives. Next the airlines use of the word accident instead of crash or crash landing, allowing them to admit there was a problem in the best possible light. Finally, I believe that the flight altitude must have been a great advantage, in-comparison to a flight that suffered engine failure at 30 thousand feet.
Weakness: The major weakness was the simple fact of the laws of averages. Simply put if you fly long enough you will have mechanical problems that may lead to a crash. US Airways could only be re-reactionary in this situation, which is never a good place to be. Finally, there appears to be weakness for all commercial airlines, the lack of innovation that the industry has shown toward bird deflection. This might seem obvious but how can aeronautical engineers over look that a mufti-million dollar planes that hold the lives of their passengers can be forced out of the air by a bird?
Opportunities: There largest opportunity was for good P.R., and to show the world how they care for their passengers. Second was the “hero” drum that they beat the horse to death using the captain heroics and years of experience.
Threats: Loss of consumer confidence, leading to dwindling ticket sales. Law suites from the passengers, crew and their families. Also stronger federal regulation, and negative P.R could have proven to be problematic.
1: Waited until facts could be confirmed before giving a detailed response.
2: Web page was up with in thirty minutes.
3: The “ care team” was sent to New York to provide cell phones and clothing to passengers.
4: Leveraged search engines by purchasing key words, and terms for information redirection.
5: Set up phone lines for families to check on passengers.
6: There “go team” carried credit cards and cash to the first responders to book hotel rooms for the passengers.
7: CEO gave a that a boy to the police firemen, ferry boat operators, Salvation Army, E.M.T.’s etc….
8: Sent letters to passengers explaining how to retrieve items left behind with a $5000 check to handle immediate expenses.
9: Reimbursed air fair.
10: Gave passengers “chairman’s preferred” status until March 2010.
11: Continued to keep their success fresh in the mind of the general public via 60 minutes interviews 12 months later, also a pilgrimage was made back to the crash site one year latter.
Business Week proclaimed US Airways to be “a model of crisis management”. The company still is heralded as a caring company. The crash was named the “miracle on the Hudson”; in short they have appeared to have made the correct decisions.
This case is a testament of a good P.R. Department and communications team. They by all reports have appeared to perform their duties to the best of any standard. However, I would be remiss if I did not point out that the captain all though a skilled pilot did not deserve the title of hero. I believe that he was doing a job that he was handsomely paid to do. For me a hero is somebody who goes above and beyond the call of duty, here the captain had no choice but to do his level best to land the plane as he to was on board. .